The growing elderly population is putting pressure on the universal healthcare scheme, forcing officials to seek fresh funding. The National Health Security Office, which operates the scheme, has submitted a Bt164-billion budget request for the next fiscal year but ended up getting just Bt151 billion. “We have had concerns about such budget constraints,” Dr Jadej Thammatach-aree, deputy secretary-general of the NHSO, said on February 13. His office may have to request further funding later, he said. The scheme provides free coverage for most medical services to about 48 million citizens. Dr Jate Siratharanont, chairman of the National Legislative Assembly’s public health committee, said almost one-third of all insured people are over 60 years of age.